Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has told lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye whose house has been under siege since the padt eight days, to hand himself over to the police to end the siege.
Falana, in a statement on Thursday, though noted that the fundamental right of every citizen to personal liberty is guranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, but said that the right might however be violated by the State if there was reasonable suspicion that any citizen had committed a criminal offence.
Based on this, therefore, he urged Melaye to surrender himself to the police for interrogation.
Falana said: “The Nigeria Police Force recently announced its plan to arrest Senator Dino on the allegation that he has committed the offences of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide. The Senator did not respond to the invitation of the Police on the grounds that the permission of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was not sought and obtained!
“Convinced that the Senator has decided not to submit himself for investigation, a team of police personnel have surrounded his residence with a view to effecting his arrest. The siege to the house by the Police has needlessly lasted for 6 days. It has been reported that the supply of electricity and water to the house has been disconnected by the Police. Such action cannot be justified in law.
“There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police Force has itself to blame for the sensationalization of the planned arrest of the Senator. The Police ought to have effected the arrest of the Senator under the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which empower the Police and other law enforcement to break into any house to arrest if there is evidence that any criminal suspect against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by any court has absconded or is concealing himself or herself so that the warrant cannot be executed,” he said.
Falana said by sending over 60 armed police personnel to arrest a citizen, the Nigerian is exposing the Federal Government to ridicule.
“However, contrary to the misleading statement credited to the leadership of the Senate on the procedure for the arrest of legislators, the Nigeria Police Force is not required to seek the consent or obtain the permission of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives before arresting a member of the National Assembly who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence in any part of the country.
“Since legislators are not entitled to immunity under section 308 of the Constitution, they are liable to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted if they are linked with the commission of any criminal offence. However, the arrest, investigation and prosecution must be conducted in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the penal statutes and the Constitution.
“However, by politely requesting Senator Melaye to submit himself for arrest, the Nigeria Police Force has accorded him the special treatment that is normally reserved for Very Important Personalities in Nigeria by security agencies. It is an indisputable fact that but for his privileged position in the country, the Police would have forcefully arrested the Senator without laying any siege to his house.
“To end the needless drama and the unwarranted inconvenience to which his family members and neighbours have been subjected for the past six days, Senator Melaye should submit himself for arrest without any further delay; more so that the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear in the case of Dr. Oladele Fajemirokun v Commercial Bank (Nig) Limited (2009) 21 WRN 1 that no court has the power to restrain the Police from arresting any citizen who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence,” he said